HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus which was identified in the 1980’s. It is a virus that attacks the immune system and weakens your ability to fight infections and diseases.
HIV is transmitted by:
- Semen, vaginal and anal fluids
- Dirty needles
- Pregnancy, birth and breast feeding
HIV is not transmitted by:
- Toilet seats
- Forks and drinking glasses
- Swimming pools, spas etc
The HIV virus does not live long outside the human body.
You may be asking yourself, how would I know if I have HIV?
Different people have different symptoms when they contract the virus. Usually soon after a person is infected, it is reported that they have “flu like” symptoms such as a sore throat, fever, aches and pains, swollen glands and rashes. However, there are many other illnesses that can cause these symptoms and therefore HIV may not be detected straight away.
The only real way to tell if you are HIV positive is to have a blood test, especially if you feel you may have been at risk of contracting HIV (i.e. you had unprotected sex) and you have symptoms a couple of weeks later. It is vital that a diagnosis is made as early as possible in order to get the correct treatment and care to stay well. Left untreated, the virus will damage the immune system quite rapidly and therefore possibly causing serious illness.
Blood test can be carried out at the general hospitals or at the Gregorios clinic in Larnaca (situated in the Larnaca General Hospital). Consultations with psychologists for pre and post test results are also available. All testing and consultations are free and confidential.
HIV is not AIDS!
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is the term used to describe the potentially life threatening diseases and cancers that has been caused by the HIV virus destroying the immune system. AIDS CANNOT be caught or passed from one person to another, there is no AIDS test. AIDS is the final stages of the HIV virus. However, many people who have HIV, with treatment, often do not go on to have AIDS. Even people with AIDS, with the correct treatment and medical care can lead long and healthy lives.